I’m a Burglar—Here’s How to Outsmart Me
From burglars' mouths to your ears: Here are the vulnerabilities thieves look for when they're deciding which homes to break into.
Keep a car parked in your driveway
The investigative team at Portland, Oregon, news station KGW conducted an anonymous survey of 86 inmates incarcerated for burglary in the Oregon Department of Corrections, and almost all of the burglars surveyed said they’d think twice if they saw a car in a driveway.
Keep your doors and windows locked
Yes, this seems obvious, and yet a lot of people actually forget to lock their doors and windows. Most burglars KGW surveyed said they tended to “break in” simply by walking through an unlocked door or climbing through an unlocked window.
Consider making your door kick-proof
Some of the burglars surveyed by KGW said they’d be willing to kick in a locked door. It’s actually not difficult to kick in a door. However, you can make your door much more challenging by swapping out the faceplate on your door for one that uses three-inch stainless steel screws.
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Don’t ignore a knock on the door
Every burglar surveyed by KGW reports knocking on the front door before breaking into a home; if someone answers the door, the burglar makes up an excuse and moves on. You don’t have to open the door for the person, but definitely let the person know you’re home—you just might thwart a burglary.
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Keep your radio or television on while you’re at work
Most of the burglars surveyed by KGW said they wouldn’t break into a home if they could hear a radio or see that the television was on. If you’re concerned about wasting electricity, consider setting a timer to turn on the radio or television during prime burgling time.
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Prune those shrubs
Burglars value their privacy while they’re breaking and entering. Theoretically, if every house on a particular block seemed empty, a burglar would still choose to target the house that offers the most privacy. To deter would-be burglars, keep the shrubs around your house well-trimmed.
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Keep the outside of your home well-lit
Because burglars value their privacy while robbing you, they’ll be deterred by a well-lit property. Even if burglars are relatively certain that you’re at work or on vacation, they’d still rather target a home they can approach in the dark to avoid calling any attention to themselves.
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Rethink your regular routine
Burglaries happen much more quickly than you might think. Cleveland Police Captain Keith Sulzer tells Cleveland.com that he often hears burglary victims say, “I was just gone for ten minutes.” If you keep to a regular routine and a burglar is watching your home, you can bet he or she will know when you leave and for how long—even if you’re just walking the dog. If it’s not possible to change up your routine, be sure to make it look like someone is home when you leave (turning on the TV or radio, for instance), even if you plan to be back in a jiffy.
Watch what you say on social media
Over time, more and more burglars are using social media to target potential victims. Don’t make it easier for them by announcing when you’re be leaving for vacation or posting from your trip. Even if you’ve set your social media settings to “private,” the information you post can still get passed around to someone outside your social circle.
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Consider investing in a security camera
“Get a camera and make it visible,” advises one of the burglars in the KGW survey. Of 57 convicted burglars surveyed by NBC 4 New York, 37 per cent said they’d be inclined to avoid breaking into a house with a visible security camera positioned near a door.
Get an alarm system
Not surprisingly, the sound of a home alarm system going off will quickly deter most burglars, KGW found. However, some burglars said they follow a fast and efficient routine that allows them to get in and out in less than five minutes, giving them time to get away before police can respond.
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Hide your valuables where burglars won’t look
A determined burglar will search everywhere for valuables, including the stove, the freezer, the toilet tank, and even boxes of cereal. However, most of the burglars surveyed by KGW reported heading to the master bedroom first before going through the rest of the house. Their second favourite room to search for valuables was the living room. Storing valuables elsewhere can help make a burglar’s job that much more difficult.
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Don’t assume your dog will deter a burglar
It’s worth noting that 70 per cent of burglars surveyed by Fox 5 News in Atlanta said a dog wouldn’t deter them from targeting a home. And one of the burglars who spoke to NBC 4 New York said even a barking dog wouldn’t stand in the way of his burgling: “Dollar store Beggin’ Strips do wonders,” he said.
Next, check out seven sneaky ways burglars break into your house.